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Sentence on the youth

Published on January 26, 2012 by: in: Society

Without hearts, souls, these are the skeletal people.
Add me the wings, adolescence!
Beyond lifeless world let me float,
paradise domain spectacle!

We have to come to grips with the unemployment problem among young people if we do not want to lose hope for the better future of hundreds of thousands of citizens of this country, and not to lose our hope in them.

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Unemployment among youths is quickly becoming a more serious social and economic problem in Poland and in a lot of other European countries, Spain for example. As “Gazeta Wyborcza” and its text about so-called NEETs (not in employment, education or training) say, “according to International Labour Organization, last year 23.7% of people between the age of 15 and 24 were unemployed in Poland, which adds up to 250,000 people”.

Together with the crisis, the situation of young people entering the labour market is still getting worse. As far as during prosperity the situation in Poland was changing to an employee’s (who was able in some trades at least, to look for a job by any possible means) advantage, in the period of slowdown the new graduates are condemned, especially within some bigger companies, to the persistent looking for a job, which ends in either finding a job under one’s qualifications (often on the border of financial independence) or the resignation and vegetation close to one’s parents, doing some odd jobs. Apart from the personal drama, unemployment has a very negative influence on economy. Eurofound researches, as the same text in “Gazeta Wyborcza” states, are estimating that one NEETs costs a tax-prayer 37,000 zloty every year, which means 5 million euro yearly, about 1,5% GDP, quite a lot in comparison to the European Union average.

Reasons of status quo

One of the status quo causes is, undoubtedly, the education system, which does not prepare pupils and students afterwards to come to grips with “the authentic world”. The years of education, especially if the parents’ education values do not force their children to connect learning with working, range from carefree laziness to  intensive cramming, only from time to time they are connected with the authentic self-development. Unfortunately, in most cases during the crash with the market realities none of those attitudes gives, carefully speaking, a specifically high rate of return. Changing the way of teaching at school and university, and adaptation of the 19th century institutions to the 21st century needs is a gigantic undertaking, which is indispensable if we count on the fact that Poles should be more than only assembly plant workers or employees of Chinese corporations.

Solutions needed now

Before we carry out a total system change, we should begin with the temporary actions, we do not have time to lose. First of all, we have to create an occupational counselling service, which will be accessible both for secondary school students (before they decide what subjects they will do at their high school exams and for what faculty at university they will apply) and for students, who finally will have a place, when they find not only available jobs, internships or trainings offers in Poland, but also the professional advice for their occupational competences, people who will be able to help them in the conscious forming their career. Career offices of universities do not fulfill do that duty – they offer other places for keeping the unnecessary and unprocessed information, which is served by not very useful university administration workers. In such a career office a university or secondary school student could familiarize himself both with what in reality the job in the definite trade depends on – thanks, for instance, to the research in the particular firms (what idea about work in advertising can even the most creative humanist, who has never gained any experience even in copywriting, have) or together with the expected demand on the stock market for a particular specialization, while he will be finishing his studies (here, again, extensive research is needed). The information about the amount of money the graduates from each faculties earn (and in what professions)  and the predictions of the changes in those earnings in the future are also important.

Businessmen, as well as students and universities, will be interested in such places, which let them understand each other and adjust their expectations and behaviour, the last two being especially important.  Such an intermediary causes that a student, who is busy with learning, does not have to visit dozens of firms, and a businessman who is busy earning money does not to have spend half of his time at the university. A secondary school student needs reliable information (and universities, unfortunately, do not secure it for them) about his possible future, which depends on the faculty at university he chooses, and a student needs a support in the soft switch, instead of the brutal crash, from the carefree reading time, parties and examinations, to the demanding world of projects, deadlines and Excel tables.

We seriously have to accept this challenge if we do not want to lose hope for the better future of young citizens of this country, who are still living in the carefree unawareness (“Beautiful moment, do not pass away!”), and not to lose our faith in them. In the end someone will have to earn money for our pension, even when we spend the retirement in Ciechocinek, not in Barbados, and pay for the soft pillows for us, which will be pushing nearer to our hurting lower backs by home help.

Translation: Milena Dawidzionek

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About Leszek Jażdżewski

Politologist, publicist, regular political commentator in Polish media. Editor in chief of “Liberté!”, Polish liberal socio-political journal. Studied international relations in University of Lodz, Institute of Political Studies on Polish Academy of Sciences, Glamorgan University in UK and Tbilisi University in Georgia. Vice-president of Liberal Forum, member of the council of Projekt: Polska Foundation, secretary of the board of Transport Integration Society, vice-president of Industrial Foundation. Coauthor of books: “Liberal reflections on life chances and social mobility in Europe” and “Democracy in Europe. Of the People, by the People, for the People?”

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